SpaceX launches 12th Falcon 9 rocket this year


Elon Musk's SpaceX has successfully launched another satellite, FORMOSAT-5, into outer space and right after ten minutes, the booster landed vertically on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.

It's hard to believe it was less than two years ago that a SpaceX Falcon 9 landing was an elusive and unprecedented achievement.

Taiwan's Central News Agency quoted American Institute in Taiwan chairman James Moriarty as saying yesterday's successful launch could present the possibility of future scientific collaborations between Taiwan and the US.

With today's launch, it seems that SpaceX is picking back up its mission pace.

Originally slated to fly on SpaceX's discontinued Falcon 1 rocket, Formosat 5 is the first major space mission fully design, manufactured and tested in Taiwan.

Continuing its effort to re-use expensive rocket components instead of jettisoning them into the ocean after each launch, SpaceX managed to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 on a platform floating in the Pacific Ocean.

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Formosat 2 was retired past year, well after Formosat 5 was originally scheduled for launch. Taiwan's FORMOSAT-2 satellite launched in May 2004.

SpaceX previously planned to fly a secondary payload, the Sherpa bus from Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, which would have deployed almost 90 small satellites after separating from the Falcon 9 upper stage.

Taiwan's National Space Organization (NSPO) is now focusing its attention on the launch of FormoSat-7, scheduled for sometime next year, after the successful launch of its FormoSat-5 early Friday morning, according to Science and Technology minister Chen Liang-gee (陳良基). The booster landing activity is the part of SpaceX program to reuse the rockets which can launch multiple missions so that spaceflight cost can be reduced.

Several others were rebooked on the next Sherpa adapter flying on a Falcon 9 next year.

The next Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base is scheduled for September 30 with the third batch of 10 next-generation voice and data relay satellites for Iridium.